LIVE: Bobby Lee – The Crescent, York, 29/10/2023

If, for some strange and inexplicable reason, you had just arrived from Saturn and somehow landed in the main concert room of the Crescent Community Venue and upon emerging from your spaceship the first person you clapped eyes upon was that dude stood to the side of the stage wielding a guitar – yeah, him just in front of that standard lamp – you would have sworn blind that you had been well and truly blown off course and found yourself in some completely alien time and place.

With his long hair, bandana, and orange tinted aviator-style glasses, the chap in question certainly does bear a vague resemblance to a young Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame and you could easily be forgiven for believing that the year was in fact 1967 and you were now deep in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco. The archive video footage playing onto a huge screen at the back of the stage behind him and his two musical cohorts – images from that time of the Californian coast, surfers, skateboarders, Baptist Church congregations, Rib Rack joints, and gas-guzzling American automobiles heading down the Pasadena Freeway – merely serve to reinforce this view.


But the man is, in fact, Bobby Lee. He hails from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and the time is now. There is no doubt his appearance does nod towards the Summer of Love and there is an unquestionable air of psychedelia and surrealism in his having song titles such as ‘Acid Grassland’ and ‘Impregnated By Drops Of Rainbow’, but the music that he creates draws upon influences that stretch way beyond the Bay Area. His entirely instrumental songs, led by the expressive, often expansive chord progressions of his electric guitar, evoke the vast landscapes of the American Southwest, certain parts of West Africa and the home of desert blues, the motorik sound of West Germany in the 1970s, plus a little bit of country and some glorious space rock thrown in there for very good measure.

But for all of the global inspiration that he draws upon, you suspect that Bobby Lee’s heart ultimately lies in Los Angeles. With its rattling surf guitar, ‘Sacred Swimming Hole’ provides a perfect soundtrack to all those still dancing in the water off Venice Beach and when the three musicians gather some serious momentum on the concluding ‘Join Me In LA Boogie’ you fancy that Lee has already fired up the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and will be heading straight for the Hollywood Hills immediately after this show.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos of Bobby Lee at The Crescent

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.